National Institute on Drug Abuse programs offer model for enhancing scientific workforce diversity

Feb. 8, 2024

In service of its mission to advance addiction science to improve individual and public health, the National institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is committed to fostering a robust and diverse scientific research workforce. Critical to this effort is the inclusion and retention of talented investigators from diverse backgrounds in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and training pipeline.

The NIDA Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP) and the NIDA Diversity Scholars Network (NDSN) program were designed to address this need by increasing access to research experiences for students from populations underrepresented in STEM careers and providing mentorship and guidance to help early-career investigators from those populations apply for and receive National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to support their research. Both of these programs are featured in recent Neuropsychopharmacology articles that outline NIDA’s models for enhancing scientific workforce diversity and report on key program results.

The NIDA SRIP offers summer internships to undergraduate students that enable them to learn the fundamentals of experimental design, manuscript preparation, data collection, and data analysis in research laboratories across the United States. The program focuses on recruiting students from underrepresented groups and introducing them to potential STEM career opportunities and mentors. To disseminate this model for increasing scientific workforce diversity, an RLA writer collaborated with NIDA staff to co-author and publish an article on the NIDA SRIP that highlighted program impact and the potential advantages of reproducing the model.

The NDSN program assists underrepresented early-career investigators in navigating the competitive NIH grant application process. In the program, investigators learn about NIH funding mechanisms, receive coaching on their draft research proposals and the NIH review process, and participate in mock review workshops. Both an RLA writer and analyst partnered with NIDA staff to co-author an article on the NDSN program that analyzed the probability of funding success for NDSN program participants, demonstrating that more than 50 percent of participants received new NIH awards within 2 years of completing the program. Our team also contributed to a poster on the program that NIDA presented at the November 2023 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting. We are proud to partner with NIDA and help advance their goal of fostering a more diverse research community for future generations.